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Don Rigsby

A Vision – 1998 (Sugar Hill)

Reviewed by Jon Weisberger

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CDs by Don Rigsby

Don Rigsby has risen from relative obscurity to bluegrass prominence, working with Charlie Sizemore, J. D. Crowe & The New South and, most recently, the Lonesome River Band. For his first solo album, he offers a project giving as much attention to its all-gospel message and all-star guest cast as it does to Rigsby himself.

From the opening "Wings Of Angels" (featuring Crowe, his present guitarist Greg Luck, Del McCoury's fiddler Jason Carter and Alison Krauss's bassist Barry Bales), to the closing "Vision Of A Golden Crown," an a cappella quartet with Ralph Stanley, Ricky Skaggs and Otis Dillon, backed by more than a dozen of bluegrass's best-known singers, the emphasis is on strong vocals and solid material. The Stanleys' repertoire is well-represented, as are traditional gospel songs such as "Drifting Too Far From The Shore" and Brenton Preston's well-known "I've Just Seen The Rock Of Ages." At the center is a four-minute unaccompanied solo on "Higher Than I," demonstrating Rigsby's intense involvement in the material and willingness to take risks.

No one could have faulted Rigsby had he chosen to make a more popularly-oriented album for his solo debut. That he offers instead a focussed and disciplined gospel album is testimony to the seriousness with which this young man takes his music.